After studying the Quranic law of inheritance as explained by you, I found that following two points require further clarification.
If a deceased person had more than one wives, which one of the following cases will apply.
1/8 shares of the total amount will be equally distributed among widows.
Every one of the widows will be given 1/8 shares each.
I need to know which case you choose and on what grounds, since it will change the amount given to others i.e. in second case the 2nd category of inheritors will get less money. While in the first case they get more.
- You consider brother and sisters of a childless deceased as the substitution of children on the basis of a comparison of verse 11 & 176. You write (Explanatory note # 8).
These three common features point to the fact that in case a person dies childless, his brothers and sisters substitute his children, with regards to their prescribed shares in their inheritance.
A logical consequence of the above derivative should be that the share of childless deceased’s spouse must be returned to the original when he/she has a brother/sister. But we see in verse 12 that Qur’an neither mentioned it nor gave any hint about it (as it did in verse 11) and you also applied this while answering the question no 10 of Mr. Katz where you gave Â¼ of the total assets to the wife.
I hope this will not take much of your time.
As far as your first question, regarding the share of the widow/widows is concerned, in my opinion the deceased’s wife shall get one-fourth or one-eighth (as the case may be) of the total property. If the deceased had more than one wife, all wives shall have an equal share of one-fourth or one-eighth (as the case may be) of the deceased’s property. The basis of my opinion is that in the Qur’an, it is, generally, the share of a relation that has been mentioned, rather than an individual. For instance, when the Qur’an says that if a person has only daughters and if they are two or more in number, they shall get two-thirds of the balance of the deceased’s property, it is obvious that it is the share of all the daughters mentioned here, not the share of each individual daughter. In the same way, the share of a deceased person’s wife is also actually the share of the relationship, not that of each individual wife. Moreover the words used in the Qur’an (i.e. Your wives shall get one quarter of your estate, if you die childless. While if you leave children, they shall get one-eighth) also seem to imply that the shares mentioned in the verse are for the particular relationship not for each individual wife.
My opinion is further supported by the fact that if the shares mentioned in the Qur’an for wives is taken to mean the share of each individual wife it would create some inconsistencies in the law. For instance, suppose a person with four wives dies childless. In such a case, according to the Qur’an, either his brothers and sisters shall be his inheritors or, in their absence, his parents. But giving each wife one-fourth of the total property of the deceased shall leave nothing for either the parents or the brothers and/or sisters. Moreover, in such a case, if a person who has brothers and sisters dies childless, the distribution of his property shall be as follows:
Father (1/6th) + Mother (1/6th) + Wife # 1 (1/4th) + Wife # 2 (1/4th) + Wife # 3 (1/4th) + Wife # 4 (1/4th)
which shall amount to more than one. And is therefore, quite obviously wrong.
With reference to your second question, I would like to explain that my statement: “in case a person dies childless, his brothers and sisters substitute his children” applies only to the position of the brothers and sisters of a childless deceased. It does not apply to a change of position of the wife of the deceased. The similarities, in the law of inheritance, on the basis of which I termed brothers and sisters to be substitutes of a person’s children if he dies childless are:
If there are males as well as females, a male’s share shall equal that of two females;
the share of one sister, if she is alone, is the same as that of one daughter, if she is alone; and
the share of the parents of the deceased is the same (one-sixth), i.e., in case a person who has some children dies, and his parents are alive, the share of his parents shall be one-sixth. Again, his parents would get the same share if the person dies childless but has some brothers and sisters. Whereas, if neither of the two (i.e., brothers/sisters or sons/daughters) exist then the share of the parents shall be different.
I did not mention in these similarities that the share of the wife shall also return to her share that she would have received if the deceased had any children.
The basic implication of my statement is that like the children of a deceased, his brothers and sisters, if he dies childless, shall replace the category of children as the “inheroitors of the second category”. In this meaning, it would be as correct to say that: “if a person has neither children nor brothers and sisters his parents shall substitute his children as the inheritors of the second category”.
I hope this helps. In case any aspect of my answer remains unclear, please feel free to write back to me at your convenience.